yada-yada-1430679_1920The sermon we heard on Sunday was about the power of words.  This passage from James, is from the New American Standard Bible:

 1Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. 2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well. 3Now if we put the bits into the horses’ mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well. 4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires. 5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire! 6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell. 7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race. 8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

I know, this is a rather long passage for a blog post.  But, it’s all so good, I just couldn’t leave any of it out.  It paints such a picture of the power of our tongues.

Do you ever sit in church and think, I hope he (or she) is getting this?  He (the person sitting next to me) should really feel convicted.  I have this thought more than I should admit.  But as the old saying goes, whenever you point a finger at someone, you have three pointing back at you.  I felt convicted.

A year or two ago, I was pretty good about extending grace, not participating in gossip, and practicing self-control.  Since my brother died, my relationship with God is not what it was.  My trust in Him is not what it was.  I felt convicted because, lately, when someone irritates me, I too often respond in kind, even feeling pride because of the cleverness of my barbs.

This is not who I am supposed to be.  It’s not who I want to be.

We have been terrible “church-hoppers” over the last few years.  Some of it has been for good reason, as we sought a Biblical church.  Most recently, we have been attending the same church for about a year.  I would say it is Biblical – no church is perfect.  But, over the last several weeks, I have dreaded going.  Maybe there are just too many choices.  I don’t feel it’s right to leave a church for no good reason.  Going to church is not supposed to be for my inspiration, but to worship God.  But still, I shouldn’t dread going either, should I?  Maybe I’ll get into the reasons in another post.  For now, I’ll just say that we decided to try a different church the last couple of Sundays.

Will this be our church home?  I don’t know.  We need to learn more about it before making the decision.  But, I will say, this last Sunday was the first time in a long time that I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly that I had tears in my eyes a few times.

I realized later in the day that a prayer had been answered.  I have been praying every day for my faith and trust to be restored.  I ask God to please let me feel His presence in my life again.  I have been going through the motions, reading the Bible every morning, praying, listening to Christian music.  But, the joy has not been what it once was.  And, it hurts.  I miss it.

While it’s usually not fun to feel convicted, I am joyous about it.  I want to go back to being who I am supposed to be in Christ, and to continue to grow more.  This blogpost by Keith Haney, How to Develop a Circle of Trust, has also had me thinking about how I have been handling my relationships.

Something at work has been bothering me.  For weeks, rather than go to the person, I have been letting it anger and eat at me, even gossiping about it.  Finally, today, I went to the person and talked to her about it.  As it so often is, it was a misunderstanding.  Isn’t it honoring the relationship more by talking to the person, in a respectful way, than to try to ignore it, while it makes you more bitter?  I feel so unwise and immature about my initial handling of it now.

This song has been playing over in my mind almost constantly over the last couple of days.  Words by Hawk Nelson.

If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll close with some of the lyrics.  May you feel God’s presence in your life today.

They’ve made me feel like a prisoner
They’ve made me feel set free
They’ve made me feel like a criminal
Made me feel like a king

They’ve lifted my heart
To places I’d never been
And they’ve dragged me down
Back to where I began

Words can build you up
Words can break you down
Start a fire in your heart or
Put it out

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

You can heal the heartache
Speak over the fear
God, Your voice is the only thing
We need to hear

Let the words I say
Be the sound of Your grace
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You

I wanna speak Your love
Not just another noise
Oh, I wanna be Your light
I wanna be Your voice

Let my words be life
Let my words be truth
I don’t wanna say a word
Unless it points the world back to You


Is the Cross a Symbol of Death?

graves-copyThis may seem like a strange question.  I had a strange experience the other day.  I left work during the middle of the day to attend an HR luncheon.  On my way back, I drove down a road I don’t normally travel.  On the right side of the road, I saw a strange spectacle . . . small-scale ferris wheels and some other items I couldn’t make out.  What on earth?  Then I saw the sign – CARNEVIL.  A Halloween display.  I wondered who would want a sign that contained “evil’ posted in their yard.  The usual skeletons and stuffed zombie-like creatures littered the yard.  Then, I saw something that jarred me, even offended me a bit.  A black cross.  How did this fit into the ghoulish display?  I looked closer.  It was on top of a grave.  All made of cardboard, it appeared, painted black.

Don’t misunderstand me.  I am not offended by the cross.  I was bothered by it being used in this setting.  But, I realize, a cross does sometimes mark a grave.  I’m sure you have also seen them on the side of the road, where someone has passed away in an accident in that place.  When placed in those settings, I hope they aren’t intended to represent death, but the passing of a believer who is now in a better place because of the sacrifice and suffering Jesus endured for us.

These thoughts led me to a memory.  When I was still finding my faith, wrestling with the most important questions of life, I wondered about the cross as the sign of Christianity.  An odd choice, it seemed to me.  A torture device intended to kill, used as a symbol of faith.  Morbid.  And then, to decorate this torture device as jewelry, make beautiful stain-glassed windows containing it.  Misguided?

As my faith has grown, my understanding of the cross as a beautiful reminder of what Jesus did has changed.  That the son of God, a part of the trinity of God Himself, loves us so that He endured tremendous suffering to renew a relationship with us, is remarkable.  Yes, the cross was torturous.  It had to be so, for Jesus to take the punishment for all of the sin – past, present, and future.  He did it willingly, out of love.

cross-1719364_1280But, beyond that, Jesus rose on the third day, conquering death, giving us an opportunity for new life.  Eternal life.  While in some ways, yes, the device of the cross represents death – ugly, horrific, painful death – even more powerful, it represents the life we have been given as a gift through great sacrifice.

“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight;” Colossians 1:21-22 NKJV







Eight Things Adventureland Has Taught Me

trainr-rideLike most kids, I loved amusement parks.  I went to a few, but the one we went to most regularly was Adventureland in Altoona, Iowa.  It was about a three hour drive from the home where I grew up.  We would usually meet my cousins from South Dakota, adding to the fun.  It was like kid heaven.  Once inside, you could ride all the rides you wanted . . . I remember having trouble sleeping the night before out of excitement

We would usually meet my cousins at the McDonald’s across the road.  My parents figured they would fill us up on less expensive food before we were tempted by all of the overpriced treats in the park.  That was just fine with me.  We didn’t go out to eat all that often, and almost never to McDonald’s because there wasn’t one near our house.  So, the stop at McDonald’s was a treat.  I could see the roller coasters through the McDonald’s windows, adding to the excitement.

I had returned once as an adult, before I had kids.  I took my nephew when he was about the age my son is now, because my brother’s family and I all lived fairly close to the park for a couple of years.  I remember thinking it hadn’t really changed much since I was a kid.

My husband grew up north of Altoona, actually quite a bit closer.  He, too had gone to the park fairly frequently as a kid.  The first time we went together, with our kids, was 2014.  When we entered, we both agreed, it was like stepping into a time warp.  The entrance seemed exactly the same.

1.  A 20-month-old cannot handle a hot amusement park after a three hour drive.

I live about 30 minutes from where I grew up, so it’s still nearly a three hour ride to the park.  The first time we went, my son was four and my daughter was under two.  My husband’s parents met us there.  We decided to drive up that morning.  Big mistake.  The kids were already crabby from the car ride when we arrived (as were we).  It was very hot that day, and the lines were long.  We didn’t get many rides in before my daughter started having tantrums while waiting in line.

We returned to the park in 2015 and 2016.  Both years, we stayed over the night before so we could be fresh when we arrived at the park.

2.  Sometimes it’s better to take a break.

Because we drove up that morning, we had booked a room for that night.  We knew being in the car for a total of six hours round trip would be too much for one day.  We left the park in the early afternoon and checked into our room to get cooled off physically and emotionally.

Admission to the park was not cheap, so we hated to waste the time away from the park.  However, the much needed break made the return in the late afternoon/early evening much more pleasant.

3.  There’s good and bad to camping at Adventureland’s campground. 

We bought a pop up camper in June of 2015.  We wanted to use it as much as possible that summer, and thought it would be fun to take it to Adventureland.

It is less expensive than staying at a hotel, so that is an obvious plus.  After working all day, driving three hours, and then setting up the pop-up, we were just a wee-bit cranky.

A plus – eating was less expensive.  My husband had planned ahead.  The camper has a small stove-top and we brought along a microwave, so we were able to bring our own food for the first night.

The campground is huge, with over 300 sites.  Many retired folks come to work at the park for the summer, and they stay in their campers.  The negative . . . the sites are very close together.

A huge benefit – our campsite was very near the entrance of the park.  It was a very easy walk, so we didn’t have to fight traffic.  We just walked right up to the entrance when they opened.  That was pretty awesome.  They also have a decent bathroom with a shower.  I took two showers while there, and there was no one else showering at those times, so that was great.  The downside – the bathroom did not have air conditioning and there was virtually no ventilation, it seemed.  It’s tough to feel refreshed, even after a shower, when the air is thick with steam and it’s 90 degrees.

You can have your hand stamped and leave the park and return as many times as you want during the day.  With our camper being so close, we could go back and take a rest whenever we wanted.  The campground also has a pool, so we took a break in the afternoon and took a dip.  The kids really enjoyed that, and it cooled us all off.

4.  While you may be able to get away with not following through after saying “Maybe later” to a 2-year-old in some settings, an amusement park is not one of them.

My daughter’s favorite ride is the hot air balloons.  She is the adventurous one.  Her older brother is more cautious – and he especially was when we went in 2015.  The hot air balloon ride looks harmless, but it actually goes pretty high, and as your going around, your seat swings out.  He tried it once, and didn’t care for it, but my daughter, who is three years younger, wanted to ride it over and over.

We decided that my husband would pick up a pizza for dinner, we would eat it in the camper, and then see how it went as far as heading back to the amusement park.  I had in my mind that my son and I would ride the log ride, as they were removing it from the park at the end of the summer and it was one of my favorite rides.  My daughter was too short for it.  As we were leaving the park to go eat, we passed the hot air balloon ride, and my daughter wanted to ride it again.  I replied “Maybe later.  We need to go eat dinner now.”

It had already been a long day, and my husband said he was done with the park.  I was trying to persuade my daughter to stay with Daddy in the camper and rest while my son and I went to ride the log rides.  To say this didn’t go over well would be an understatement.  She became hysterical, screaming “Maybe later!  Maybe later!”  We joke about it now, but at the time, I knew I was not going to get out of the hot air balloon ride.

So, I told my son, I would return and we would ride the log ride.

5.  Sometimes you have to rely on bribery and threats.

My daughter and I ended up taking three or four more rides.  Even so, when I told her it was time to go, she started having a fit.  I had told her I would buy her a toy, but when she started having a fit, I told her, no toy if she didn’t straighten up.  It worked like a charm and we bought this pink giraffe on the way out, as well as a toy for my son.

pink-giraffeSadly, when I returned to the camper, my son was sound asleep.  We didn’t ride the log ride, and when we returned in 2016, it was indeed gone.  Mom was the most heartbroken of all over that one.  Boo!

sleeping6.  I’m still a kid at heart, but I’m not looking forward to my kids wanting to ride the big roller coasters!

One of my favorite rides is the bumper cars.  My son has been tall enough to ride them the last two years, but my daughter has not.  That can be pretty tough for a 3-year-old to deal with  She handled it like a trooper, but a few months later, she still sometimes mentions that next year she will be tall enough to ride.  I sure hope so!

While I look forward to her being able to ride what she wants, I enjoy my kids riding the kiddie rides.  Like all things with kids though, I know that this will end and they will want to ride the big roller coasters eventually.  Even in my 20’s, that would have been just fine.  There’s a new roller coaster at Adventureland now, and it looks seriously daunting.  Frankly, at this stage in my life, I have no interest in it.  But, I know,  my husband or I will have to ride it at some point.  Ugh.  I hope he will be the one up for it.

7.  Going on a weekday makes more sense.

Why did it take three visits for me to figure this out?  I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes.  This year, we got a hotel room the night before and the night after.  Definitely the way to go.  The kids enjoyed the hotel pool, and there is plenty to do in the Des Moines area on the second day before heading back.  So far, we have gone to the Iowa Children’s Museum, Blank Park Zoo, and the State Capitol.

Unfortunately, everything is very crowded on the weekend, and the State Capitol building was closed on Sunday, so we just took photos of the outside and walked around the grounds (there are some pretty bizarre statues there).

It didn’t occur to me until the next week, when I was talking about it at work, that we really should go on a week day.  Duh.  I have quite a bit of flexibility in my job, so I could work a weekend leaving me with my days off during the week.  We’ll definitely have to give that a try next year.

8.  With all of the heat, tantrums, and trouble, I still hope we return every year.

This park brings back such great memories for me, and I love that the buildings haven’t changed in 40 years.  My kids love it so much, they talk about it all year long.  While we like to go new places every year, this is a nice constant to look forward to again and again.


What You Should Know Before Getting Lasik Eye Surgery

eyeballI had Lasik Eye Surgery in August of 2015. I had wanted it for a long time, but I finally got it because my options were running out.  I was near-sighted and had worn contacts for about 20 years.

When I began pursuing it, a few years earlier, my eye doctor had talked me out of it.  You may think, “Well, of course he would.  His bread and butter would be gone if everyone got Lasik.”  That thought had crossed my mind . . . there may be some truth to it, but he did make some good points.

Because I was near-sighted, I would be able to read without correction, even after 42, the average age when people start needing reading glasses.  However, it was kind of a moot point.  The correction I used for my distance vision would cause me to need “cheaters” as I aged anyway.  I was around 40, studying for financial services exams, when I began getting headaches after reading for a few hours.  So, I was reduced to wearing contacts and reading glasses.  Even so, I wore extended wear contacts that allowed good oxygen flow to my eyes.  I could wear my contacts for a month at a time.  Most of the time, it was as if I wasn’t wearing them at all.

If you get Lasik Eye Surgery, you will still need correction for reading as you age, unless you get Monovision.  That is a big negative.  As you get older, the flexibility of the lens in your eye will decrease.  That is an unavoidable fact of life.  Monovision is having one eye corrected for distance, and one for close vision (or one corrected for distance and no correction in the other eye – which would have been the case for me).

Monovision often works better for people over 50.  A great suggestion by my eye doctor was to try monovision with contact lenses before making the decision about Lasik Eye Surgery.  I tried it for about a week in my late 30’s, and I did not care for it.  Reading was not too bad.  But, I found my distance vision was blurry.

My eye doctor told me he had the same experience.  But, when he tried it again, in his 50’s, it worked much better for him.  He explained, when you’re younger, even if you have started needing reading glasses, your eyes are always trying to focus.  When you get older, your eyes have sort of given up, basically allowing the contacts to do most of the work.  I remember, brother’s friend got Monovision Lasik Surgery in his early to mid-40’s and he wasn’t that happy with it.  But, a man I worked with got it in his 60’s and he absolutely loved it.  No problems focusing at all.

So, I had decided to just keep on with my extended wear contacts and my occasional need of reading glasses.  I had to change my plan at 43.  My eyes had itched from time to time before, but it was becoming much more frequent.  My contacts were often blurry.  I would blink and my contacts would move – something that had never happened before.  My eye doctor said I had some small white bumps on the inside of my upper eyelids.  This is something that sometimes happens to contact-wearers.  They were similar to calluses.  He said I could take a break from wearing contacts, and they may go away.  But, it was likely, once I started getting them, they would continue.

I had already been taking week-long breaks from wearing my contacts, and the problem would come back within a couple of days.  The eye doctor mentioned eye drops that clear it up, but once you stop using them, the problem returns.  I decided contacts were no longer going to be an option.  Bifocals or Lasik were my only choices.

Research eye surgeons.  This is something I did not do.  I chose the office I did because it was a well-known name in the area, and they had a satellite office not too far from my work.  I liked my surgeon very much.  She is a sweet and caring person.  That said, her office is rather unorganized, and my wait time has been excessive.  In addition, while my office visits were nearby, the procedure had to be done in a larger town, about 40 minutes from work.  Also, my wait for my surgery was ridiculous.  They called someone in for surgery who had arrived after me, and whose appointment was later.  An apparent mix-up, which can happen to anyone.  But, in an already anxiety-producing situation, this was frustrating.

You may have to do some things for weeks before surgery to prepare.  They determined I had dry eye, so I had to take Restasis for about a month before the procedure, and then a few weeks after.  Also, I was told to wear no make-up for a week before the surgery.

The procedure was more painful and anxiety-producing than I expected.  They had me pick up a valium at a pharmacy ahead of time.  I took it before the procedure, as instructed.  As far as I could tell, it did nothing.  I can’t tell you the details of what is done, but anytime someone is messing with your eyes, you feel anxious.  You can’t see most of what they’re doing.  The procedure hurt more than I expected.  In fact, the surgeon had told me there would be a period when everything would be black, but she did not tell me there would be pain.  The best I could tell, they were putting some kind of device on my eyeball to keep it still.  I could also smell burning – I could smell part of my eyeball burning!  Yikes!

My husband was home with the kids, so my parents picked me up.  My eyes hurt so bad.  I could not open them the whole way home.  I went to bed, as they advised.  All I kept thinking at this point was, “This better be worth it.  I’m not sure I would have done this if I’d known it was going to hurt this much.”

I slept for a few hours, and when I awoke, the pain was totally gone.  What a relief!  I also could see more clearly already.

I had a follow-up the next morning.  In the waiting room, I had the chance to talk to several others who had the procedure the previous day.  They all said it hurt.  But, the guy who was in the exam room had told them he had no pain.  He’d had a different surgeon.  So, I will reiterate, research your surgeon.

How are the results, more than a year later? 

At my last exam, about six months ago, my left eye was 20/20, or slightly better.  My right eye was good, but not 20/20 (I don’t remember the exact number now).  I can see quite well, and it’s nice not wearing contacts.

I work at a plant that has crane operators.  They are required to take an annual vision exam.  The machine for the exam was in the nurse’s office, and I was playing around with it.  After looking at a couple of items on the test, we determined that my depth perception was not good.  This could have been a fluke, and maybe I would have done fine had I taken the whole exam.  Maybe I had this problem before; I don’t know.  It’s not something I notice in day-to-day life.  But, if you have a job where your depth perception is important, I strongly recommend that you ask about how it may be impacted before having the surgery.

I also notice that my near vision is much worse in the mornings than it was before.  I have a hard time reading anything without cheaters during the first hour I’m awake.  It improves throughout the day.

Continue to have your eyes examined, even though you’re no longer wearing contacts or glasses.  There is a history of glaucoma in my family, so I intend to still have my eyes examined at least every couple of years.  Also, you want to be checked periodically for things like Macular Degeneration. One positive about wearing contacts – I had to have the health of my eyes examined every year to get a new prescription.  Now that I no longer require a prescription, I will have to take this into my own hands.

Would I do it again?  Maybe.  Overall, I am happy with the results.  But, I do worry about how this will pan out long-term.  People who had RK 20 years ago have experienced some problems.  If I could do it again, I would probably try bifocals for a year or two before taking the Lasik Surgery plunge.

Advice.  Do research.  Ask lots of questions.  It’s a major decision that should not be taken lightly.




$50 Vive Health Gift Card Giveaway!

Enter to Win $50 worth of awesome fitness gear!
$50 Vive Health Gift Card Giveaway!

Sponsored By: Vive Health

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

Winner Will Receive:

a $50 Gift Card to ViveHealth.com!

Vive Health offers an amazing selection of health-related products. They carry everything from blood pressure monitors to splints as well as walking aids to alarms. If you are injured or are caring for an elder, you should definitely check out their products. They offer free shipping on everything and have a wonderful guarantee policy.

Click here to read Love, Mrs. Mommy’s full review of their Overbed Table! 

Open To US entries – Must be 18 to enter Giveaway Dates ~ 10/12 12:01 AM EST through 10/31 11:59 PM EST
Good Luck!

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. Love, Mrs. Mommy received an Overbed Table at no cost to facilitate the above-mentioned review. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winner will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winner has 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.

Baby Sleep Site Giveaway

All new Moms could use more sleep for baby and themselves!

Sponsored By: The Baby Sleep Site

Hosted By: Love, Mrs. Mommy

The Baby Sleep Site offers a variety of packages to help families struggling to get a good night’s rest. They offer everything from their Express Sleep Plan to a Members Area which offer great resources for people to use to either prepare for DST or for getting their baby or toddler back on track after DST. They also have personalized sleep consultations, perfect for tailoring a plan specifically to your family’s needs. Plus you can find free resources, such as sample schedules and e-books, right on their website!

3 Prizes / 3 Winners! 

1st Prize: Express Sleep Plan

2nd Prize: 2-Month Membership

3rd Prize: Baby STEPS to Better Sleep Book

*If the 3rd prize winner is from outside the United States, the prize will be sent as an E-book.

Open To Worldwide entries – Must be 18 to enter Giveaway Dates ~ 10/11 12:01 AM EST through 11/1 11:59 PM EST

Good Luck!

Disclosure: Love, Mrs. Mommy and all participating bloggers are not held responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill their prize obligations. Love, Mrs. Mommy received nominal monetary compensation to host this giveaway. This giveaway is in no way endorsed or sponsored by Facebook or any other social media site. The winners will be randomly drawn by Giveaway Tools and will be notified by email. Winners have 48 hours to reply before a replacement winner will be drawn. If you would like to participate in an event like this please contact LoveMrsMommy (at) gmail (dot) com.



Is Painting Like Life?

painting-like-lifeWe are in the process of finishing our basement, and I have been painting a lot, it seems.  Between working, my daughter’s dance class, and everything else, I’ve manage to squeeze in about five hours a week for the last two weeks or so.

I’m no stranger to this activity.  I bought a condo when I was single, and I painted every room when I moved in.  The couple who owned the place before loved sponge paint and wallpaper borders.  I had a goal of painting a room a month, so I wouldn’t get too burned out.  In all, I painted seven rooms, saving the basement, which was semi-finished, for a few years down the road.

In some ways, I remember those days fondly.  It was a lot of work, but it was the first place I owned, so the first time I was able to paint whatever colors I wanted.  My Dad helped me with some of it, and while I’m sure painting someone else’s house was not on the top of his list of fun things to do, I enjoyed spending the time with him.

We now rent that condo out, and so I’ve had to return at times to paint some of those rooms again.  Most recently, my Mom helped me while my dad was downstairs cleaning.  Who says you stop needing your parents’ help when you’re a 44-year-old adult?

img_3423Painting is a pain in the rear, especially if you can’t complete the task all at once.  The cleaning of everything in between painting sessions, the re-stirring of the paint – it’s all very messy.  I’ve had three back surgeries, so the sometimes awkward positions are not all that pleasant either.

Painting the basement has been a new experience for me.  The condo was an older home, and so I was painting plaster, which had been painted many times before.  Now, I’m painting virgin drywall with a textured ceiling.  It makes taping the ceiling different, and, even though the dry wall has been primed, it is really soaking up a lot of paint.  Painting with kids and pets . . . well, you can imagine.

But, I do find some things about it satisfying.  Unlike many areas of life, the progress is very apparent.  I’ve had some goals of specific areas to paint in a particular order because of the work my husband is doing while I paint.  Two coats are necessary, and so there is a very deliberate planning process.  Putting on the second coat is much faster and easier, partially because the taping is already done.  After that’s had a day to dry, I can tear down the tape.  Once I’ve completed the second coat in one place, I get to start in a fresh spot.  Changing the stark white walls to a new color . . . there’s just something about it.  Today, my husband came into the largest room, which is the one I have been working on most recently, and said, “Wow.  It feels different in here.  It’s starting to feel like a room.”  If that’s not satisfying, I don’t know what is.  Something I have been working on actually made another person feel different.  Kind of cool.

I painted for two hours today.  My daughter got bored watching me and headed upstairs.  I kindly asked my son to go upstairs after over an hour of him banging things, and then bringing down his microphone and making random noise.   I asked my husband to please turn down the staticky radio while he tiled the bathroom.  Finally.  Quiet.  For about 40 minutes while I painted.

painting like lifeI started mentally visualizing what I would get done today, and what I could accomplish this week.  I started thinking about what it is that I find satisfying about the process, despite the hard work, messiness and awkwardness.

As I mentioned, the apparent progress does something for me.  Specifically, it’s the completion of the small things.  If I look at the bigger picture, I’m only about 1/2 done, and that can be a daunting concept.  But, the process forces me to break it down.  First coat and the white basically covered in this area – Done.  Second coat and painting in this area – Done.  Paint dry, and tape torn down – Really Done.  All Done.

I remember talking to my boss at my first professional job (has it really been 20 years ago?  Indeed).  I told him that there were many days when I felt I had worked hard all day, but couldn’t think of anything I had accomplished.  He said he often enjoyed going home and mowing the lawn because it was the only time he could do a job from start to finish and feel he had accomplished something.  He was the owner of a trucking company that employed 300 people.  I guess that’s how it is with management jobs, and maybe some others.  The job I’m in now is project-focused, and so I am able to check major items off my list weekly.  Maybe that’s part of what I enjoy about it.

But, there are so many parts of life that we put work into, and we don’t see the results immediately.  Parenting comes to mind. Day in and day out, we try to say and do things that will teach our children the values we cherish.  We don’t do it perfectly.  They aren’t perfect.  We wonder if any of it is sinking in.  Sometimes we are blessed to see a glimpse that it is.  We see them acting kindly, saying something about their belief in God, or somehow giving us insight about how they process situations.  But often, what’s getting in is a mystery.  We won’t know until they start making more of their own major life choices.

So, yes, painting is like some parts of life.  Perhaps, the less important parts.  The bigger things require more patience.  For those things, we pray, and we hope, and we wait.


Dealing with Santa and the Elf – from an Apparently Uptight Christian

elf-copySince I became more serious about my faith a few years ago, I have struggled with Santa and the Elf on the Shelf at Christmas.  Not only do they take the focus away from the birth of Christ, I have a problem with all things “magical”.

If you use the word “magic” in your blog name, your posts, or when describing Christmas-time – don’t be offended by this rant.  I understand, people use the word to mean really special.  But, the word bothers me.  Do you notice how many kids’ shows focus on magic?  It seems 90% of Disney productions are about magic.  The characters often cast spells and have special powers.  Why is this a problem?  In this case, they are calling on something supernatural.  Any time we are calling on the supernatural, and we’re not calling on God, then what are we calling on?  Something to ponder.  Many of these things resemble witchcraft . . . from a Christian perspective, that can’t be good.

At the risk of exposing myself as the hypocrite that I am, I will disclose that the first movie we took my son to was Frozen.  My kids love it, and as you know, Frozen products are everywhere.  Didn’t this movie come out THREE YEARS AGO?!  It seems it will never go away.

There are things I like about this movie.  At least it shows that magic can be dangerous.  I also like that the love that saves the day is one sister’s love for the other – instead of the predictable romantic love we have seen endless times.

But, from my explanation of the issues above, I’m sure you can understand that there are things about this movie that bother me.

adventOkay – back to Christmas.  I know – Jesus was very likely not born in December.  But, it is the time we celebrate his birth, and that’s where I like to keep the focus.  I have started buying only ornaments that focus on Jesus, with two exceptions.  My husband and I bought an ornament during our first Christmas as a couple – we had just gotten engaged.  We buy a new ornament every year, with the year on the ornament.  Some of them are more season-focused than Christ-focused.  We also bought an ornament on our honeymoon.  So, that has also become a tradition.  Whenever we go on a trip as a family, when we’re in the trinket stores we try to find a Christmas ornament.


This is a pretty good segue to how I look at such things.  The focus should be on Christ.  I also want my kids to have wonderful memories of the season, and in that way, there is a focus on family and tradition, too.  I loved when my Mom put up the decorations.  They were mostly the same every year . . . in particular I remember some Christmas wind chimes she hung in the doorway in between the dining room and the family room.  Every time I walked through the doorway, I would hit them with my hand.  When I was little, I would have to jump up to hit them.  Eventually, I would have to try to avoid hitting them with my head as I walked from one room to the next.  I look back at my childhood Christmases very fondly.

Santa was part of it all, too, although not a huge focus.  On Christmas Eve, we would go to my Great Grandmother’s house when I was very young.  When I was older, and there were concerns about the weight of so many people on the floors of her farm house, we rented a hall.  We would often go to Christmas Eve church service.   It was at 10:00 PM.  So, by the time we drove home, through the Illinois countryside in the winter, it was very dark.  I remember watching the sky for Santa’s sleigh.  Of course, I never saw it.

The gifts under the tree were from my parents, and they appeared during the weeks leading up to Christmas Day.  Gifts from Santa were much smaller, and appeared in the stocking overnight on Christmas Eve.  It was a genius way of doing it for a number of reasons.  My Mom could wrap the gifts as they were purchased, instead of trying to keep them hidden.  She has said they did it that way, partially, so we would know the gifts came from them, instead of giving credit to Santa.  My brothers and I would get up VERY early on Christmas morning.  We were allowed to get the items from our stocking first thing, without supervision.  I remember going into my parents’ bedroom to tell them what Santa had brought (as if they didn’t know).  This bought my parents some time to sleep in a little!  Our need for Christmas to start was temporarily satiated with the stockings.santa

Even as a kid, though, the Santa thing bugged me.  So much of it did not add up.  If Santa was at the North Pole getting ready for Christmas, how was he at the mall?  How could you see more than one Santa at two different places on the same day?  Those are his helpers.  Hmmmm.  Okay.  We don’t have a fireplace.  How does he get in?  At our house, he comes through the door.  I see.  Why does Santa fill our stockings, but at other houses, he provides all of the wrapped presents under the tree?  He does whatever the parents ask him to do.  Wow.  Santa sure has a lot to keep track of!

When I realized, for sure, that there was no Santa (I don’t remember the exact moment – I had suspected for quite a few years), I was somewhat annoyed by the deceptions.

I don’t blame my parents – at all!  There is a tremendous amount of pressure to make your kids believe in Santa, and, like I said, they didn’t focus on it much.

My position on this, and what I told my son when he asked (at age 5), may be unpopular with some.  That’s okay.  I’m not telling anyone what they should do.  I’m telling you what I have done, because it feels like the right thing for my family.  I just can’t knowingly lie, even if it is all in fun.  When my son asked if Santa is real, I told him, “St. Nicholas was a real person who lived a long time ago.  From what I have read, he was a believer in Jesus, so that’s something we can support and appreciate.  But, he doesn’t fly around on Christmas Eve delivering presents to the whole world.  It’s just a fun story that people talk about at Christmas-time.  But, if you want to believe in the story, because it’s fun, you can.  Don’t tell your friends what I told you, because their parents may feel differently, and want them to believe in Santa.”

I could tell he was disappointed.  I said, “You wish I would have just said he’s real, huh?”  He nodded.  I still felt I did the right thing, rather than pile fib upon fib.  Sorry kid.

We also bought an Elf on the Shelf a couple years ago.  In fact, I’ll likely do a post about some of the things we have done with it.  We got it because we thought we would have fun with it, and we have.  Ours is a girl and my son name her “Cookie”.  My daughter was too young to have a clue the first year.  Last year, they both would look for her every morning.  I enjoyed coming up with new ideas and seeing their reactions.

Elf on the ShelfBut, I don’t say Cookie is watching them, that she reports about their behavior to Santa, or she loses her “magic” if they touch her.  I say, she’s a doll, and they shouldn’t touch her because it’s part of the game.  When my son says he thinks I move her at night, I don’t lie.  Sometimes, I shrug.  Sometimes I say “Maybe.”  He says he’s going to stay up and catch me.  I just say, “We’ll see.”  I can see him wondering, and I’ll admit, it is kind of fun to watch his expression when he thinks about it.

There is a part of me that would like to tell you it’s lazy parenting to tell your kids they better behave so Santa doesn’t put them on the naughty list.  But, I threaten to tell Nana and Papa or their teachers about their behavior because they seem to care more what other people think than what I think. It’s no different at all, is it?  So, no, I totally get it.  I just can’t do it.

But, I don’t want us to miss out on the fun and togetherness of the season.  I enjoy buying and wrapping presents, pulling out the ornaments and reminiscing about when we bought them, and I think that’s all okay.  It’s also a wonderful time to give to others, including those in need and each other.  Most importantly, it’s an amazing opportunity to talk about Jesus and what He has done for us.





Why Does She Get to Walk?

Writing a book is something that has been on my heart for a long time.  I have been thinking about writing an e-book and selling it through my blog.  I would like some feedback.  This is what I have as an opening.  Does this seem like something you would be interested in reading?  Would you be willing to pay a modest fee for a book that started this way?  Do you have any advice for another way to publish?  Please be honest with your comments.

train-crossingAs I walked across the hospital room, with the help of my newly issued walker, she asked, “Why does she get to walk?”

Why?  Indeed.  I shouldn’t have.  She should have.  She wouldn’t.  I would.  She was 16.  I was 26.

I was beginning week two of my hospital stay.  I had just been transferred to Physical Therapy.  I shared a room with the 16-year-old.  I never thought I would forget her name.  Eighteen years later, I doubt myself.  Cassandra?  I think so.   Our other roommate was a stroke victim, the left side of her body almost fully paralyzed.

What a crew of misfits we were.  While her name has faded a bit from my memory, the details of Cassandra’s story have not.  Sixteen years old, on a date with her boyfriend, waiting on a rural road for a train to pass.  No one knows for sure what happened.  Cassandra could not remember the accident all.  Her boyfriend had died.

The suspicion was that the boyfriend, who had been driving, had become mesmerized by the moving train.  His foot had eased from the brake.  Because it was a rural crossing, there was no gate blocking the tracks.  There was an impact.  Cassandra was under the overturned car.  Responders would not have known to look for her had they not seen her purse on the pavement.

By the time I met Cassandra, she had undergone many surgeries.  My memory is that they numbered into the double digits – several before she had regained consciousness.  It was predicted that she would not walk again.

Surviving a major accident, that results in an extended hospital stay, exposes one to what seem to be the worst conditions of life.  I still think about Cassandra and her tragedy.  I wonder what happened to her.  Did she defy the odds and walk?  Did she get worse?  Is she still alive?  She would be 34 now.